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Irish Soda Bread


I have the British Isles well covered by my ancestry. Scot, English, Irish and Welsh on both sides of my family. My one hundred percent French grandfather gives me my surname. My wife is all Irish. With Saint Patrick’s Day upon us, I offer an Irish soda bread recipe. Though I did think to make corned beef and cabbage, I thought because the holiday lands on a Friday during Lent this year, some of our audience may not be able to celebrate with a meat dish. But soda bread would be appropriate. Even though it’s Irish in style, my recipe is not particularly traditional.

My version is based upon traditional recipes. It is an amalgam of several with my own taste. Having made many versions over the years, some in restaurants, I like a version that has a bit of New England with cranberries instead of currants or raisins and molasses as an additional sweetener. When in a commercial environment, I would use a large stand mixer to make as many as two dozen loaves at a time, At home I prefer to cut in the butter by hand and mix with a wooden spoon to avoid over mixing and developing gluten which toughens the loaf.



  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for the board

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour

  • 1 cup oat bran, plus one tablespoon for dusting the top

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt

  • 2 teaspoons baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 cup sweetened and dried cranberries, such as Craisins

  • 2 cups buttermilk, plus more for brushing the top

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut up

  • 2 tablespoons molasses

  • 2 tablespoons sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil, plus more for the pan


  • preheat oven to 350 degrees F

  • lightly oil a 10 inch cast iron skillet or cake pan

  • place the dry ingredients in a large bowl and whisk to blend

  • add the cut up butter to the dry ingredients and work together with your fingers until it resembles a coarse meal

  • whisk the wet ingredients together in a separate bowl until well combined

  • make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, add in the wet ingredients and mix together with a wooden spoon until it comes together

  • dump the dough out onto a lightly floured board and gently work it together into a uniform ball

  • put the ball in the prepared pan and brush the top with buttermilk and then dust with the tablespoon of oat bran

  • cut a large x across the top of the loaf about 1/2 inch deep

  • bake in the preheated oven for 55 to 65 minutes, or until an instant read thermometer reads 190 degrees F

  • remove from the oven and let cool in the pan

Slice and slather with whole butter, cream cheese or whatever brings your palate joy. This may not bring out the Irish in you but it is tasty and appropriate for any day, holiday or not.